Stan Saylor

Republican state Rep. Stan Saylor

LNP’s editorial on Aug. 28 (“Libraries matter”) highlights what is so wrong with print media today. Never content to encourage and foster productive conversations, the editorial board continues to place value on finding ways to tear apart people in the hopes of creating controversy to sell more papers.

Republicans and Democrats came together to produce an on-time balanced budget that doesn’t raise taxes, puts more money into education, and sets money aside in the state’s Rainy Day Fund to prevent the calls for future tax increases.

But a lack of controversy doesn’t sell papers, so the LNP Editorial Board felt compelled to try to gin some up.

I have always been a steadfast supporter of libraries. When we think of education, the first thought is always of a classroom. Classrooms and our teachers are integral to our education system, but learning doesn’t end when a person leaves the classroom. Libraries throughout the commonwealth offer citizens the chance to explore, learn and improve their skills. In an ever-changing economy in which retraining is essential to advancing one’s career, libraries offer the opportunity for a better life.

That is why House Republicans stood up and increased the funding for our public libraries.

It is true that library funding took a hit at the end of the 2000s. During Gov. Ed Rendell’s last term, when House Democrats were in the majority, the public library subsidy was reduced by 29%. When Republicans took back control in 2011, despite a very difficult budget year, the public library subsidy was held relatively steady.

In Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget address in February, the public library subsidy was level-funded at $53.5 million. House Republicans advocated for an increase of $5 million, which the governor agreed to. This was a 9.2% increase, which was one of the largest percentage increases in this year’s budget.

Our caucus values the role libraries play in our communities. That is why we pushed for this large increase and, looking to the future, we hope to make more investments in our libraries. However, future increases must be done in a fiscally prudent manner.

While the LNP Editorial Board cares little for the fiscal health of our commonwealth and sees no problem with sending more tax dollars to Harrisburg, the people of Lancaster County want a state government that is more accountable and responsible with their tax dollars.

The media often bemoan the current public discourse going on in today’s politics. It is time they realize their own role in the divisive rhetoric we see today. Instead of simply advocating for a good program, they have to question motives and tear down elected officials in hopes that the controversy fuels paper sales and keeps them in business.

It is long past time that the LNP Editorial Board takes a good hard look in the mirror and asks why it focuses on driving people apart.

State Rep. Stan Saylor is a Republican who represents the 94th district, which includes portions of York County. He has been in office since 1993 and is chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.